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Egypt could join GCC, Kuwaiti official says

We support Jordan and Egypt joining the GCC as full members, Kuwaiti official says

Gulf News

Manama: Egypt is on the list of countries that could join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a senior Kuwaiti official has said.

Humood Al Radhwan, head of the GCC directorate in Kuwait's foreign ministry, made the statement as he commented on the progress of the negotiations on Morocco and Jordan joining the alliance.

"We support Jordan and Egypt joining the GCC as full members, but only after two years," Al Radhwan told Kuwaiti daily Al Rai ahead of the GCC summit in Riyadh next week.

"The GCC countries share close geographic, linguistic and religious features. The Gulf society is fully integrated and there is no real distinction between a Kuwaiti and an Emirati, for instance. We do have harmony with Jordan [and Morocco], but we need two years of partnerships before we look into their cases and expand on their membership until we reach full integration. I must here point that Egypt is on the list of joining the GCC and that it has the priority," he said, quoted by the daily on Sunday.

The six-member Gulf council in May agreed to consider the applications of Morocco and Jordan, the only other monarchies in the Arab world, to join the alliance founded in 1981.

In September, the GCC foreign ministers recommended a five-year development plan for Jordan and Morocco to be discussed by the GCC leaders in their summit in Riyadh.

Last week, however, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE foreign minister, said that although the GCC member states welcomed more robust ties with Morocco and Jordan, "there is no consensus about the two countries joining the GCC with full membership."

According to Al Radhwan, there were slight differences on how to address the issue, "just like there were divergent views on whether to present the full assistance to Bahrain and Oman or to give it annually."

The official was referring to the GCC pledge in March to set up a fund worth more than $20 billion aid package for Bahrain and Oman to upgrade housing and infrastructure over 10 years and generate jobs.

Al Radhwan said that Kuwait had agreed to support financially Jordan and Morocco, but added that the amount had not been decided.

"We have not decided on how the funds will be provided, either. They can be directly or through development funds that will undertake huge projects in both countries to help them out of their economic crisis," he said.

In late November, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar set up a $2.5 billion sovereign investment fund to support Morocco's tourism sector.

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